A city break to Milan

I had always heard that Milan is a city of fashion, culture and delicious Italian food. A perfect mixture of all the things that I love. This made my husband and me plan a four – day trip to this gorgeous city and experience all of this first hand. We visited in July, and the weather was lovely and warm with a mixture of clear blue skies, the sparkling sun and also a torrent of rain to cool things down. The moment we landed and after we settled into our hotel, we went out for a walk and to eat dinner at this cute authentic Italian restaurant with the most cozy decor and a huge selection of Italian wine. I was absolutely taken aback by the beauty of the city and the relaxed happy vibe that this city exuded.

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The architecture, the cozy cafes with people sitting outside and laughter rippling through the air, the gentle breeze, the young professionals returning from work in their stylish clothes and accessories, people queuing outside the gelato stores filled with innumerable mouth-watering flavours…. it was truly a sight that warmed my heart and filled me with excitement!

I absolutely love visiting churches and The Duomo (Cathedral of Milan) dedicated to St. Mary of the nativity is one of the most beautiful churches that I have laid my eyes on. It is truly majestic with amazing detail and intricate carvings. We even walked all the way to the top to catch a view of the vibrant city. Sitting inside and praying was a truly humbling experience for me.

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The Duomo – Milan Cathedral
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Inside the Duomo

We were super lucky to have the opportunity to see the Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, preserved in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. 

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The Last Supper – Leonardo Da Vinci

Right next to the Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is the world’s oldest active shopping mall and boasts an iron and glass roof. It is packed with designer stores, jewellery shops, chic restaurants and is alive with talents musicians busking and artists sketching potraits of tourists.

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We also visited the Sforza Castle, which was built by the Duke of Milan and contains several museums, luscious green lawns and a gorgeous water fountain at the entrance.

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Being a food lover, Italian being one of my favourite cuisines, I absolutely feasted on the delicious pastas, pizzas, lemoncello and gelatos! Here is us looking super happy visiting this gorgeous city.

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On top of the Duomo

Milan was everything that I ever imagined it to be and more. It is a great place for a city break. Have you ever visited? Would love to hear what you loved about the city!xx

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A channel of your peace

Happy Sunday loves!

I hope you’re having a great one so far. Everyday on listening to the news, I always hear about all the suffering and hardships this world is facing. It is an era of unrest and turmoil. But it is also a world of compassion, kindness and love. We must not lose courage and strive to become a channel of God’s peace and love. There is always hope that one day we can all live together in peace and harmony.

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Below is one of my favourite hymns titled “Make me a channel of your peace”

Make me a channel of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me bring you love; 

Where there is injury, your healing power,

And where there's doubt, true faith in you. 

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there's despair in life let me bring hope; 
Where there is darkness - only light,
And where there's sadness, ever joy. 

O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood, as to understand, 
To be loved, as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving to all that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

 

Amen!

 

40 acts and lent

I first came across what 40acts was all about on a busy day at work. It was 2016 and I remember worrying about all the jobs I still had to complete for the day and finish on time for once. Lost in my own thoughts and engulfed by all the tasks lying ahead of me,  is when I bumped into a friend and her colleague on the corridor. It was lent time and since all of us belonged to the same faith, the usual question of “oh, what are you giving up for lent this year” came up. I don’t think I had thought about anything in particular – maybe sweets/chocolates was my answer. This is when both of them told me that they were doing this 40 acts challenge. 40 acts are acts of compassion, kindness or generosity – however big or small, that you perform each day of lent, which enriches your soul. What a beautiful way of going through lent and enhancing one’s spiritual being. I thought I would pen down my 40 acts journey here – I am a bit late as I was poorly these past few days, but now I am on the mend, here goes (better late than never right?);

If this is something you might be interested in here is the link

40acts.org.uk

Day 5 – Favourite. 

Here is the challenge:

What are your favourite things? Favourite film? Favourite coffee shop? A view where you go to be alone? Get ready to fly in the face of your impulses – and give those personal favourites away. Give away the novel. Pass on the scarf you think someone would look fantastic in. Share the introvert hang-out spot.

I have always been an avid reader. Over the past few years I have fallen in love with the books written by a turkish author – Eli Shafak. My favourite one being – The forty rules of love. It was presented by my mother to me a couple of years ago – and is about the relation between the poet Rumi and his guru Shamz-e-tabrizi, one of immense love, trust, honesty and understanding. Here is a link on when I had written a bit about the book Reflections and Resolutions 

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You can also read more about it here – www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-forty-rules-of-love-by-elif-shafak-2021678.html

I would love to share it with one of you, if you are interesting in reading it. Just comment on here (not just like) and I will be happy pick one via a draw and contact you in the next couple of weeks to arrange sending a copy across to you 🙂

“You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God.”
(2 Corinthians 9:11–12 NET) – from 40acts 

Have a blessed lent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ways to beat the January/February blues

OK, so now that the festive period is over we are all back to business and have the entire year ahead. A prospect both exciting and daunting. I always find the first two months of the year a bit of a downer after all those festive parties and making merry. But we can always use these initial months as an opportunity to reflect, re-organise and re-fuel, right? Here is how I try to get over the post-festive blues;

  • I don’t know about you but I am a personal fan of making lists – whether I achieve everything on it or not ;). It’s a great visual aid and go to check-list. So, first things first – I make a list of all the things I failed to achieve in the previous year, which can either be transferred on to the new year or I make a new set of major goals for the year.

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  •   I try to organise a weekend getaway towards the end of January or mid-february. Nothing super expensive or over the top – just somewhere out-of-town. This makes me have something to look forward to especially if I have assignment deadlines or exams. I am planning on going down south at the end of the month to attend my counsins’ engagement lunch – this is after 2 exams due in these next couple of weeks.

 

  • Doesn’t it feel amazing to step out in to the winter sun and breathe in the crisp winter air? A post-lunch weekend winter walk with some thinking time always helps me clear my head.

 

  • As one of my goals for 2018 is to cook more and order less take-away, I recently bought a vegetarian Indian cook book (after getting inspired by watching the Julia-Julie project). I have leafed through it and I must say it looks incredible. I am super excited to try some of the delicious recipes. I always feel this is a great time to make a start on whatever hobby excites you.

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  • I am planning to re-organize my wardrobe. I always try to pick one little home project to work on – whether it is the kitchen, a desk or a shelf that needs sorting. Getting rid of clutter or giving away clothes that I no longer wear to charity helps lighten my mind and might also help others in need.

 

  • Take time out to see that friend or family member I tried to pretty much meet all of last year but just couldn’t make it happen.

 

  • I plan to pray/meditate more these couple of months. If not everyday, at least once a week. I used to couple meditation with yoga, which was a great stress-buster, but could never persist with it everyday. The surya-namaskar in itself is a great way to keep both the mind and body healthy. For now, I am hoping to get back into it at least once a week.

 

  • Plan a destination for one sunny holiday for the year – now that is right up my alley. I was super lucky last year to be able to go not just on one but three amazing vacations – maldives (heaven on earth – for my honeymoon), Bali and Dubai and twice back home to India. I love exploring new places and cultures and of course also lounging at the beach and soaking up the sun.

 

  • Exercise. I totally feel bloated and lethargic after having no control over what I ate this festive period. So now is the time to give my body a break from all the over-eating and get it moving as opposed to lounging on the couch.

 

  • One little personal pampering treat – maybe I will get my hair done or a pedicure.

 

Hoping to incorporate some of these in the next few weeks to kick-start 2018.

I would love to know what you do to get over your post-festive blues! 🙂

 

 

 

A New Year and a “New” me

Goodbye 2017 – filled with bittersweet memories! And hello 2018! I have never been the kind of person to set a list of new year resolutions, usually the same every year – cook more, go to the gym, don’t leave everything last minute and stress, spend more time with family, meditate etc etc. Come first of Jan I’d start making all these salads, hit the gym, call my mum more often and organise my diary with full gusto. After not even a week (I am talking about a few ‘days’) my enthusiasm and will power would dwindle at top speed till I’d be back stuffing my face with takeaways, paying religiously for my gym membership and never going and studying for that exam until a week before. Such a nightmare! By the way, my last post about going on a diet totally failed!

But, this year is different and needs to be. I feel like I have totally started 2018 on a wrong note – by being daunted by all the mammoth tasks lying ahead of me. But, if you fail and fail again, you have to pick yourself up and keep trying right? Who knows, I might even be looking back at 2018 with a sense of satisfaction – feeling healthier, happier and at peace. I recently read a book by a celebrity nutritionist and fitness guru – Rujuta Diwekar. Her weight loss and health fitness mantra was simple, ditch diets and counting calories and eat small healthy portions of meals throughout the day, and enjoy indulging in that samosa or gulab jamun every every now and then. Now, that can also be applied to other aspects of life – ditch worrying about what will be or not, set small achievable tasks throughout the day and enjoy pampering yourself every now and then.

So here are my big goals of 2018

Work and study related 

  1. Pass all my masters exams x 3
  2. Pass my work-related exam
  3. Write a 20,000 word dissertation to complete my masters (and be organised so as not to have a melt-down last minute)
  4. Audit
  5. Complete writing that case-report

Health related 

  1. Cook every alternate day at least (just bought a vegetarian cookbook on amazon)
  2. Gym twice or thrice a week
  3. Meditate once a week
  4. Try being vegan for a week

Personal 

  1. Pass my driving test
  2. Go on holiday for some sunshine
  3. Weekend getaway with friends (been planning this for years now)
  4. Visit Devon/Cornwall
  5. Go on a hike
  6. Read 3 books (any suggestions will be welcome)

These are the big ones for now! 🙂 Will keep posting my progress on each and every one of them throughout this year. Lets hope for a good one.

Happy New Year and do let me know what your 2018 is looking like 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday Blessings

“Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more–a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.”

– George Herbert

Desire is endless once we let it engulf our soul. Throughout our lives, we strive to progress and better our life; materialistically for definite but very seldom spiritually. Whilst I do not think it is wrong to want something for yourself, be it a new car, a more spacious house or that xbox and work towards it; it is important to be detached to these to a certain extent, if not completely. It’s easier said than done though, I do love that pair of jimmy choos I bought! However, once the vicious cycle starts it doesn’t end. The more you get the more you want and are never satisfied at the end of the day!

I for sure, whenever I pray always ask for something; for myself or others. But seldom am I grateful for what I have and count my blessings. There are a number of things to be grateful for in our lives and we so easily forget this. So I know what I am doing today; being grateful for what I have: for giving me such a loving and caring family, a roof over my head and food to eat, and a job which puts me in a position to reach out and help others.

There is also no greater joy than seeing a smile on someone else’s face than doing something for your own self. Giving is hands down better than receiving. I grew up in a very loving home, close to my extended family and cousins. Infact, my cousins are like my brothers and sisters and also my friends. Most of them have gorgeous children and great partners now. Whilst I do not see them and their families that often, I always stay in touch with them on whatsaspp (the perks of social media and technology).

Whilst thinking about them, I stumbled upon the NSPCC website (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) nspcc.org.uk where you can send a letter from Santa to a child you know and donate a certain amount of money for each letter you send to their cause. When I was a child I used to absolutely love Santa, he was one of my favourite things about Christmas! And what better way to wish my little nieces and nephews a Merry Christmas from Santa than to send them a personalised letter praising them for being so good this year 🙂 www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/make-a-donation/letter-from-santa/

71086-mother-teresa-quotes-about-givingFeatured pic courtesy i.huffpost.com/gen/3733962/images/o-GIVING-facebook.jpg

A breath of fresh air

 

The sky was overcast yesterday with grey and black hues,

Were the clouds going to transform into torrential rain I didn’t have a clue,

My heart however, desired to venture out and breathe in the fresh winter air,

And also to feed the magnificent birds as planned, it was only but fair.

The more I contemplate on the best course of action to take, the harder it gets to make a decision. Whilst it is sensible to always weigh the pros and cons, especially when important life changing decisions are concerned it is also equally important to follow your heart and take a risk once in a while. There is an extremely thin line between being practical and spontaneous; one which we have to carefully tread.

I have always found it hard to make decisions, over-thinking things and possibly thinking the worst outcome of any course of action I chose to take; but whatever little experience I have had in life all I can say with conviction is ‘If you don’t try it, you will never know’. Be it with decisions related to work, relationships, personal well-being or small day to day choices we make. Which dish do I order at this restaurant? Should I try something new or stick to the one I know is good?; which outfit should I wear to this special event? Should I agree to do that project when I am not sure I will enjoy it? Should I speak to this person – what will they think or say? And so on.

So rain or no rain; despite the overcast sky I decided to take a walk around where I live. I live in a set of apartments with a view of the city as well as the calming water of the Quays (best of both worlds) and there are a number of beautiful ducks and swans around this area. I have always wanted to take some time out to to feed them; something that I imagined to be a therapeutic process. My excitement was palpable when I bought that loaf of bread to break bit by bit and watch these elegant birds eat it. As I approached the waterfront and took out the loaf to open; what seemed like a million swans/ducks/pigeons/birds all sensed the treat and made a dash towards me unexpectantly. It got to the point where I got visibly concerned and had to half abandon the bird feeding and run a safe distance away whilst requesting my husband to complete the task I had so confidently started. He was braver than me and emerged victorious. It was hardly the ‘therapeutic process’ I had hoped for it to be; but nevertheless I was happy by the end of it.

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Elated by the short-lasting experience we nipped into the outlet mall next door as I really wanted to check out a store organised by the Francis House Childrens’ Hospice called ‘Festival of Christmas trees’. It is a store full of beautifully decorated glittery christmas trees and decorations by various retail stores and one can bid on each tree; all proceeds go to the hospice. It was a magical store. I later on checked out their website: www.francishouse.org.uk

I found these cute promotional items and tea towels designed by the children and bought the tea towels!

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So back to the start, to all decisions we make; however big or small is always a learning experience. It might not always work out as we would expect it to but on the other hand work out brilliantly and surprise us! You never know what is there around the corner and for the series of events to truly unfold, sometimes you just have to take the plunge.  After all, if you don’t try it, you will never know!

 

 

 

If -Rudyard Kipling

A very good morning to all!:) Thought I would start the day today by reading a very meaningful poem that I had stumbled across many years ago, and that cast an everlasting impression on me!

I thought I would attach a picture of my hometown (Dehradun) in India. This is on the way up to the mountains (Mussoorie) which is the start of the Himalayan range. This picture was taken during sunset. Very serene and a great view to look at and reflect/do some soul searching.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

By: Rudyard Kipling

Have a gorgeous day 🙂

 

A Love-ly Breakfast

I am not sure how I feel about Sundays. My Sundays usually commence mid-day at the latest followed by a good few hours of procrastination, until I feel utterly depressed around evening time for being such a sloth coupled with the knowledge of the impending doom of Monday and the week ahead. But no feeling like that today, because I am off work (please read my first post if you have a burning desire to learn why). https://onedayatatime665.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/img_5893.jpg?w=1462

I actively attempted not to browse any of my usual online retail therapy stores, thanks to my bulging wardrobe, my rapidly decreasing bank balance and my new resolve to not be so in love with all things material and embark on more of a spiritual journey.

I did however, browse amazon for items to make my flat a home (I am newly married and also a bit in love with interior designing) and lo behold! I do not know how but after a great deal of browsing, tabs, websites and what not I found out that certain organisations and institutes did an amazon wish list where you could buy things required by them. And trust me, not all items are expensive! The ones that stumbled upon were Ronald McDonald House (rmhc.org.uk), which provides free accommodation to families whose children are in the hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital (childsplaycharity.org). Did I really need that extra lamp for the living room? Nope,I didn’t! But wouldn’t it be nice to buy that toy for a sick child in the hospital? Or those paper plates and flower bracelets? And this is what I exactly did!
By this time, my husband was up unexpectantly from a deep slumber post his night shift on call due to an even deeper rumble in his belly. And suddenly I realised that I hadn’t eaten since I had woken up (it was 2pm), just a cup of delicious coffee, oh how I love you so! And so after a long time we decided to cook ‘breakfast’ together. He was in charge of the chopping and washing and I was in charge of making the omelette stuffed with tomatoes, cheese, peppers, chilli and onion. It turned out to be absolutely delicious and I am afraid I do not have evidence in pictures of our lovely breakfast as we devoured it because both of us (me especially) were on the brink of being ‘hangry’. 

But wasn’t it just lovely to do something together as a team, to share this small portion of the day. We didn’t do a great deal of talking except cooking related, but coupled with the music, a number of silly dance moves and trying to show off our culinary skills….a lot was said unknowingly and filled me with so much warmth and love. Next time you get a chance from your busy schedules, do try this; the cooking not the silly dance moves, although thats entirely up to you 🙂 – could be a partner, friend, sibling, parent, anyone.

Not such a bad Sunday after all eh?

ps: I have to post a picture of my beloved coffee machine here, please pay special attention to the mug 😉